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Psychologist Explains Why Amber Heard’s Psychiatric Diagnoses Should Be Discounted

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Psychologist Explains Why Amber Heard’s Psychiatric Diagnoses Should Be Discounted

A prominent psychologist has expressed belief the psychological diagnoses given for Amber Heard in the defamation lawsuit against her should be immediately discounted.

Dr Shannon Curry, who was hired by Johnny Depp’s legal team to evaluate Heard, told the court this week she had diagnosed Heard with borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder after spending time with her on two separate dates in December.

Dr Curry went on to offer explanations for her diagnoses, claiming Heard 'externalises blame' and can be 'self-righteous' and 'judgemental', but psychologist Dr Jessica Taylor has now poked holes in the results of Dr Curry's evaluation.

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Dr Taylor examines the pathologisation of women in mental health settings as well as specialising in sexual violence and victim-blaming, and while speaking to The Independent she argued the two disorders Heard had been diagnosed with are 'not proven medical conditions', but instead 'highly contested controversial psychiatric labels'.

The psychologist claimed she has not heard anyone use the term ‘histrionic personality disorder’ in a non-ironic manner in years, describing it as a 'debunked disorder'.

“Histrionic personality disorder was borne out of the ‘hysteria’ diagnosis, which could only be given to women," she explained. The term 'histronic women' stemmed from 'hysterical woman' as referred to in the 1968 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder.

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Amber Heard was diagnosed with personality disorders by a psychologist. Credit: Alamy
Amber Heard was diagnosed with personality disorders by a psychologist. Credit: Alamy

The change was made in a revised version of the manual in 1980 after 'top psychiatrists theorised that ‘histrionic women were labile, egocentric, seductive, frigid, and childish", Dr Taylor said, adding: "Hysteria and histrionic personality disorder became known as the ‘wastebasket of mental health’, with many influential scholars rejecting their existence."

Women could be diagnosed with the 'disorder' for 'not smiling enough, not giving men enough sex, being lesbian or bisexual [or] being too assertive', among other things, the doctor said.

"It is outrageous that in 2022, a psychologist would testify on the stand that a woman has ‘histrionic personality disorder'," she added.

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Dr Taylor said similar arguments could be made for Heard's second diagnosis of borderline personality disorder as she pointed out women are at least seven times more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder than men.

The disorder was borne from Histrionic Personality Disorder, Dr. Taylor said, and the two are overlapping constructs in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Dr. Shannon Curry diagnosed Heard. Credit: Alamy
Dr. Shannon Curry diagnosed Heard. Credit: Alamy

The doctor also argued against Dr Curry's suggestion that borderline personality and histrionic personality disorder have a 'genetic basis', saying there has 'never been any proof of genetic basis of any personality disorders'.

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"This is categorically false. No gene has been found for any mental health disorder, and the American Psychiatric Association agree that at the current time, we do not know the relationship between biology and psychiatric disorder," she said.

Heard has been accused of defamation by her ex-husband Johnny Depp, who claimed she defamed him in a column written for The Washington Post.

If you're experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They're open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you're not comfortable talking on the phone 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Celebrity, Amber Heard, Mental Health, Health, Johnny Depp

Emily Brown
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